As an Everton legend, former Leeds United manager and frequent visitor to Burnley’s Turf Moor, Peter Reid has found this season’s relegation dogfight stressful.
But some affinities are more equal than others. With the three rivals all playing crucial fixtures on Sunday at staggered kick-off times, Reid will be at his beloved Goodison Park.
‘I’d love Leeds to stay in the Premier League but I want Everton to stay up slightly more. Well, a lot more. I’ve got to be honest,’ admits Reid, part of their all-conquering 1980s side.
Peter Reid has history with Leeds and Everton and has watched both sides struggle this season
Reid was initially made caretaker manager when Leeds faltered in the top flight in March 2003
‘You know your own team are in trouble when you look at other people’s results. On Wednesday, I was supporting Chelsea at Leeds, flicking over to see if Everton could score at Watford. I tell you, I’ve been all over the place, panicking.
‘When Burnley were getting beat last weekend, I was texting Alastair Campbell [Tony Blair’s former press secretary and avid Clarets fan].
‘He invites me to matches and it’s great to see a small town in the top division. But when it comes to keeping two of my old teams up, Burnley have to go. Sorry Alastair!’
Ahead of the storm of relegation Sunday, Reid is in the back garden of his beautiful home just outside Bolton, wondering what will happen next to his former clubs.
Operating during a turbulent time at Elland Road, Reid’s 22-game reign ended eight months on
At Everton, he experienced glory under Howard Kendall, winning two league championships, the FA Cup and European Cup-Winners’ Cup.
As Leeds manager, he suffered turmoil as the club financially imploded after years of ‘chasing the dream’ under chairman Peter Ridsdale.
Reid took the hot seat in March 2003, saved the club from relegation with a famous win at Arsenal but was sacked in November. The team went down that season under Eddie Gray, beginning a 16-year exile from the Premier League.
‘Some people say go down to come back up but, sorry, you don’t want to take that chance,’ stressed Reid.
Leeds went down the following May following a 4-1 thrashing at Bolton which sealed their fate
‘You can’t assume you will be back in a couple of years. We’ve seen it with Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds and another of my old clubs, Sunderland.
‘Leeds will find it hard to keep Raphinha, Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips if they are relegated. I’m visiting Everton’s new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock on Monday but do we want to play there in the Championship?
‘If we survive this season, and I do think we will, we have to make sure we’re not in this position again.’
A fortnight ago Everton looked favourites to join Norwich and Watford in relegation. Wins against Chelsea and Leicester have instead left Leeds in dreaded 18th.
Reid played for Everton from 1982 to 1989, including the 1984 Milk Cup final against Liverpool
They need to beat Brighton at Elland Road and the current crisis reminds Reid of his tenure there in the early Noughties.
‘Their last manager had been Terry Venables, who’d nicknamed me Rocky when I’d played for him at England Under-21s,’ recalls Reid.
‘I had dinner with Terry and he warned me it would be difficult. I went as caretaker, we beat Charlton 6-1 and Arsenal [3-2] to stay up. I was given the job full-time and that’s when it became complicated.
‘The new chairman was Professor John McKenzie. He was a gentleman but either he was naive or the bondholders were calling the shots.
Reid (left) helped the Toffees beat Liverpool to the top-flight title by nine points in 1986-87
‘Mark Viduka was offered a loan move to Italy that would have earned us £3million. Leeds held out for a £12m permanent transfer. We ended up getting nothing and an unhappy player.’
Instead, Olivier Dacourt and Harry Kewell left to weaken the team, and morale.
‘Viduka was a forceful character. He didn’t want to be there and let’s say he could get that message across. It was hard to get a tune out of him,’ says Reid, who was sacked after a 6-1 defeat at Portsmouth.
‘I wasn’t surprised Leeds went down. The heart and soul had been ripped out of the place.
New Leeds boss Jesse Marsch has two league games in which to haul Leeds from the drop zone
‘They had been to a Champions League semi-final and suddenly were struggling at the bottom. Nobody knew what would happen next.
‘I have fears for them again. [Marcelo] Bielsa had a unique relationship with the Leeds fans.
‘The club felt they had to make a change because they were shipping goals but the fans would have stayed with him. Any manager would have struggled to cope with the injuries they’ve had.’
Everton have been in the top flight since 1954 and Reid concedes this season’s rollercoaster has been emotional.
Leeds are level on points with fourth-bottom Burnley but their rivals have an extra game to play
‘One of the reception girls was in tears before the last home game because there were thousands of Evertonians outside giving the players this unbelievable reception. It was a real ‘Wow’ moment because of the passion you felt from the supporters.
‘It reminded me of the atmosphere when we turned up to play Bayern Munich in a European semi-final.
‘It gave the players extra energy. Goodison has always been a bearpit and it’ll be like that on Sunday against Brentford.’
Away from the current drama, Reid’s playing career was back in focus a fortnight ago when Diego Maradona’s 1986 World Cup shirt fetched £7.1million at auction.
Leeds’ form has seen them plunge from looking relatively comfortable to being drop favourites
Reid was part of the England team who lost 2-1 to Argentina when Maradona scored with the ‘Hand of God’ and then ran away from him to score a brilliant second.
By chance, Reid was in London on the day of the auction and wandered over to Sotheby’s out of curiosity.
When ITV rang to request an interview, they didn’t know he was already in the building a few yards away.
‘My England room-mate Steve Hodge got Diego’s shirt. When he first showed me in the dressing room after the game, I wasn’t very complimentary! But he’s made big money out of it and good luck to him,’ says Reid.
Marsch’s predecessor, Marcelo Bielsa, left Leeds in March but remains very popular with fans
‘If you’re reading, Steve, I’m going to call you and see if you can afford to take me out to dinner!’
Reid’s quick wit and colourful language made him a different type of manager from current Leeds boss Jesse Marsch, who uses quotes from Mahatma Gandhi to get his points across.
At 65, Reid, who enjoyed his greatest success at Manchester City and Sunderland, admits if he gets another job now, he’d be more circumspect.
‘I would still shout, ‘Keep the ball’, but maybe not, ‘F***ing keep the ball!’, he laughs.
Brighton visit Elland Road next and could relegate Leeds if results go against Marsch’s players
‘Football moves on and I accept that. When I played for Everton, Pat Nevin liked art galleries and I liked pubs.
‘If I didn’t drink six pints in the first hour after a match, there was something wrong with me. But I’ve always appreciated everyone has their own way. I’ve embraced new methods and improvements when they come along.
‘One thing that never changes is managers getting sacked. I worked with Paul Cook at Ipswich this season and it happened to him. Those are the rules of football. Leeds, Everton and Burnley have all changed managers.
‘In fact, it might be worse now because of social media. Would Fergie have got a proper go at United or Howard Kendall at Everton if there had been social media? It is an interesting debate.’